September 26, 2012 Subject:
History of 313th FA 1917-1919
My interest in this unit is familial. My grandfather and his brother were in this unit in WWI. Both came home but not unscathed. G'pa hacked and coughed from a whiff of gas the rest of a full life (he lived to be 78) and his brother apparently suffered from some form of ptsd, then known as "shell shock." But the details do not apply here.
About the book. I have my grandpa's copy. Original copies were cloth bound in artillery red with a pocket in the cover containing a military map of the unit's areas of operations. that unique feature has no bearing here but might be of interest to any desiring to acquire an original copy. Such are available yet for well under $100.
About the book's content: The first and most salient thing of note is that it is in fact quite well written and very readable. Many such histories are basically just a collection of facts: statistics, tables of organization, combat reports, rosters of personnel, casualty lists and the like. Very informative but dry reading and of little interest unless you're really into that subject or looking for something specific in such a history.
All that is in the 313th history of course. But they went beyond that here. They wanted to tell the story of this unit- it's people and their experiences in the "Great War." They did a good job. The text carries minutiae, little pieces of human interest as well as descriptions of the unit's place in the broader events that the they took part in.
The unit was made up mostly of men from Virginia, W.Va. and some Pennsylvanians among scattered other locations. The unit was formed up and trained in Virgina. In training they often set up guns in old Confederate gun positions from a previous war.
Another item of note is that in the beginning, their weapons were hauled by horses and mules. (G'pa was an old mule skinner from the logging fields and was noted for his skill in handling animals on his discharge.) One wonders how he personally felt about the units change to using tracked machines and automobiles to haul the unit's guns and equipment. G'pa was in his 30s then and older than most of his fellows. Likely the change came hard for him especially.
The book is fairly large, 299 pages, and well illustrated with many pictures (B&W) including a composite image of the unit's personnel. There is a roster of personnel and were they were from. there are those statistics like guns and horses lost and rounds fired. There's the "war diary" and orders of citations and more.
In summary this is the story of a unit, a microcosm of the "Great War." It is also a plethora of information great and small. It is interesting as a history and source of information. A record of events done almost a century ago and of actions made by men all gone now but for maybe a bare hand full scattered around the world.
As for My g'pa, his history ended in 1963. Through this book, maybe his unit's history will continue on.
As for this book, it is among the best of it's type among many I have read spanning the Civil War through WWII.
All in all, I highly recommend this book be looked at if you have any interest in WWI at all. In fact, look at it anyway. It just may give you an interest in those now long ago events if you haven't any yet. Confined now to such dusty books, those people changed the world in their day. The events of 1914-18 brought an end to any real control of Europe by the old system of royalty. They ushered in a more 'modern' era of society.
I know this is long. I interspersed things from my family history in an attempt to bring a little human interest to this record of events great & small.